Call for wider scope for abuse in­quiry

The Southland Times - - NEWS - JOEL INESON

A se­nior mem­ber of the Catholic Church has thrown his sup­port be­hind a strength­en­ing bid for a royal com­mis­sion of in­quiry into child abuse, but will not pledge the same from the in­sti­tu­tion as a whole.

Bill Kil­gal­lon wants his church – and all other faith-based in­sti­tu­tions – to be in­cluded in the Gov­ern­ment’s in­quiry into the abuse of chil­dren in state care be­fore 1992.

The call comes as con­cern con­tin­ues to mount that the in­quiry will miss the scale of his­tor­i­cal child abuse in New Zealand if it lim­its its scope to state-af­fil­i­ated or owned in­sti­tu­tions. An Aus­tralian royal com­mis­sion into child abuse re­ported that 60 per cent of abuse hap­pened in faith-based in­sti­tu­tions.

‘‘If they keep go­ing down the track of just a state in­sti­tu­tion in­quiry . . . it’ll leave the ma­jor­ity of abuse out,’’ Liz Tonks, a sup­porter of male sex abuse vic­tims, said.

Sport­ing clubs have also been flagged by ad­vo­cates as in­sti­tu­tions that need to be in­cluded in an in­quiry. The White Pa­per for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren, re­leased in 2012, specif­i­cally ex­cluded volunteers for sports teams from a new process for vet­ting and screen­ing peo­ple work­ing di­rectly with chil­dren.

Male Sur­vivors of Sex Abuse Trust na­tional man­ager Ken Clearwater said back­ground checks were needed for any­one work­ing with chil­dren.

Pre­vi­ously, the Catholic Church be­lieved it was not its role to re­port abuse to po­lice with­out the vic­tim’s con­sent.

‘‘It’s in my po­si­tion as the pro­fes­sional ad­viser to the Catholic Church that I’m say­ing that [a royal com­mis­sion is needed]. I can’t speak for the whole church,’’ Kil­gal­lon said.

His pledge came at the end of a con­fer­ence cen­tred on male sur­vivors of sex­ual abuse in Christchurch.

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